Horrible Experience with Square Enix and Digital River – Review

It could have been worse, in that my order could not have arrived. It did arrive, although almost 1 month late and after I spent hours of my time on the phone with Digital River customer support (and many email threads).

Feb 10th, 2014

I pre-ordered Final Fantasy 13-3 Lightning Returns from the Square Enix online store, which is powered by Digital River. I had already heard of how bad Digital River can be due to their complete screw-up of the Ni No Kuni Collectors Edition. However, since that had happened about 1 year prior, I thought that they may have already fixed their problems.

Right off the bat I should have known that something was not right. It took me about 30 minutes to register an account. I registered with my normal email, but some error occurred during registration. When I tried to re-register, it told me that the email was already in use. However, any attempt to log in (or do a password recovery) was not successful. I was asked security questions in the password recovery screen, however, I never answered these security questions when I created my account in the first place. I had to abandon that email, and try a different one. The process failed again, with the exact same password recovery problem. The third time worked.. I suppose it is a good thing that I can make unlimited aliases for my email address.

Final Fantasy 13-3 Lightning Returns CE was $90, which is $10 less than would qualify for free shipping from Digital River (they wanted about $10 for the shipping charge). Instead of paying for their overpriced shipping, I decided to add a Cactuar Plush to my order so that it would ship for free. I had wanted to add other items, but they were all out of stock, and the Cactuar was in stock.

Feb 11th, 2014

The game was supposed to be shipped. Instead, I get an email that the Cactuar is back-ordered and my entire order will not ship because of it. I really don’t understand why they handle it like that. All of the other stores I’ve ordered from online will ship the items as soon as possible… except for Digital River.

Instead of waiting for the Cactuar to come back in stock, I quickly called their customer support department (by the way, their web site is a complete disaster to navigate if you need to get some help). I found their phone number in a comments section on a blog, as their own website does not seem to make it available (FYI, it is (866) 585-3251). The CSR confirmed that the product was on back order, and she did not have an estimated shipping date. She suggested that I cancel the Cactuar Plush from my order and that will cause it to ship in the next 1-2 days. I instructed her to process the cancellation, and I could verify that the cancellation request appeared right away on my order on Digital River’s site.

Feb 14th, 2014

Three days have passed and the item has not shipped. I called their customer service again. They tell me that the order has been sent to the fulfillment agency and that it should be shipping very soon. Also, they tell me that there isn’t anything else that they can do at this time.

Feb 17th, 2014

Three more days, and no update on my order. At this point, I cannot even cancel it and order a new one since the game is sold out. Instead of calling, I use their email feature online to ask about my order, since the phone attempt was not very successful.

Feb 19th, 2014

It takes them two days to answer my email. The tell me the exact same thing as the phone support 3 days earlier:

Thank you for contacting the Square Enix online store. We show that your order is complete, and it will be shipping soon. You will receive a separate shipping notification email when your order ships. We suggest to check your inbox, spam or junk mail folders.

Feb 24th, 2014

Five more days pass, and the order has still not shipped. It is now 2 weeks after my order date. I send them another email asking them about the status of my order.

Feb 25th, 2014

I get a response back from their customer support:

Thank you for contacting the Square Enix online store. A request has been submitted to cancel cactuar from your order so that the Final Fantasy XIII will be shipped. 
However, the cactuar was not successfully cancelled. A follow-up ticket has been created for this issue and you should receive a response within 2-3 business days. If you do not receive any email in your inbox, please check your junk or spam mail filters. As soon as the backordered item is cancelled, your order will be promptly shipped. 
We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Not cancelled? What does that mean? The cactuar has been in stock for probably a week now. So my order cannot ship with the cactuar, and it cannot ship without the cactuar?

Feb 27th, 2014

Two more days pass and nothing. I send them another email.

Feb 28th, 2014

I get an email that the Cactuar has now been cancelled. So it took them 17 days to cancel an item from my order…

Mar 2nd, 2014

I finally get a reply to my email from the 27th:

Thank you for contacting the Square Enix online store. 
We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you. 
We show that your preordered FINAL FANTASY Series Plush CACTUAR [2014 Ver.] was already cancelled. Your order will be shipping soon. You will receive a separate shipping notification email when your order ships.

Mar 3rd, 2014

Shipping confirmation! Its only 3 weeks late, but they’re actually shipping my order. The order is shipping from near Indianapolis, which is about 90 minutes away.

Mar 7th, 2014

I need to drive to the post office to pick up my order. The tracking says that the delivery was attempted yesterday but no one was available to accept the order. This is shipping to my place of work and there are about 20 people working at the time the delivery supposedly happened. We also have security cameras that show that no delivery was attempted. However, I’m able to retrieve the package from the post office.

I still cannot understand why this process is so difficult. I would gladly pay $20 more for the game if it was to be delivered from somewhere like Amazon and I could be fairly certain that it will arrive on the day it is supposed to (I have yet to see Amazon mess up a pre-order, although I’m sure it has happened to others). At least Amazon’s customer service is great.

I suppose I should be happy that I got the game. During the weeks it took to ship, I did lose hope. But this could have been so much easier had Square Enix not used Digital River and stuck with Amazon, Newegg, or even Gamestop.

I would never recommend for anyone to use this store.

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